Domhnall MacAuley is a CMAJ Associate Editor and a professor of primary care in Northern Ireland, UK
Some years ago, out walking along the river, I met an ex-athlete friend . “I gave up running at 50,” he told me. "Too many of my friends were having heart problems”. This didn’t fit with what I believed about the benefits of exercise, so I didn’t give it a lot of thought.
More recently, however, when preparing a talk on sudden cardiac death, I came across a research paper from Sweden that followed up 52, 755 athletes who had completed the Vasaloppet a long distance cross country ski race (90k) and, curiously, showed that those who raced more often and faster, were more likely to have hospital admissions for cardiac arrhythmia. This seemed counter-intuitive. ...continue reading